Republican Ken Buck will drop out of the race for the U.S. Senate, The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reports Friday night. Buck, the Weld County district attorney and veteran GOP campaigner, plans to make an announcement Monday, just days after word emerged that officials on the National Republican Senatorial Committee have been pulling strings in favor of former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, who is expected to enter the race in September.
It would be just one more shakeup this week in the race for the Colorado Senate seat — rated among the top seats likely to switch parties by Democratic-leaning polling expert Nate Silver.
On Monday, Bob Beauprez, a former congressman and failed gubernatorial candidate, announced he won’t be running. Friday night, The Denver Post also reported former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff plans to challenge the incumbent, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in a Democratic primary.
Bennet, a former chief of staff for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Denver Public Schools superintendent, was appointed to the seat in January by Gov. Bill Ritter after Ken Salazar stepped down to become secretary of Interior.
Buck led the fundraising race in the most recent reporting period, taking in $330,000, compared with $140,000 raised by Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, one of two other declared candidate on the Republican side. Bennet far outpaced the GOP candidates, reporting more than $2.6 million raised in the first two quarters of the year.
Businessman Cleve Tidwell is officially in the race but didn’t begin raising money until the third quarter, which ends Sept. 30. Crested Butte attorney Luke Korkowski and former state Sen. Tom Wiens of Castle Rock have also said they’re considering running for the Republican nomination.
Buck entered the race in April after successfully prosecuting the state’s first hate-crime conviction for the murder of a transgender victim, Angie Zapata, in Greeley. At the same time, Buck has been defending against an ACLU lawsuit seeking to return thousands of tax records Buck and the Weld County sheriff seized in an identity-theft investigation against undocumented workers.